Most New Zealanders are against sending solo parents back to work before their children start primary school, according to a new poll.

The Government is looking into the Welfare Working Group's recommendations on reforming the welfare system into a work-focused programme, with an eye towards campaigning on welfare reforms at the election.

Among the group's more radical suggestions were having solo parents work 20 hours a week when their youngest child reached three years old, and if they had a subsequent child while on welfare, they would have to look for paid work when the child turned 14 weeks.

A New Zealand Herald-DigiPoll released today found just 9.8 per cent of New Zealanders were in favour of solo parents on the DPB having to look for work when their child turned three.

That compared with 31.6 per cent support for sending solo parents back to work when their child turned five, and 54.2 per cent when they turned six - the current age. Some 4.4 per cent said they did not know.

The poll had a margin of error of 3.6 per cent and an unstated sample size.

Prime Minister John Key has said welfare reforms would be announced ahead of the general election and would send a clear message that people who could work to support themselves must do so.

But he has ruled out one of the more radical recommendations - that solo parents look for work when their second child turned 14 weeks - saying he was "uneasy" about the short length of time.

A ministerial working group is looking into the Welfare Working Group's proposals.

- NZPA